Opening Remarks by Minister Nkoana-Mashabane at the 13th Meeting of the Joint Commission between the Republic of South Africa and the Islamic Republic of Iran in Pretoria, Republic of South Africa, 23 October 2017

Your Excellency, Dr Zarif, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Islamic Republic of Iran,
Ambassador Gomi, Iranian Ambassador to South Africa,
Ambassador Whitehead, South Africa’s Ambassador to Iran,
Senior Officials and Distinguished Guests

I am honoured and privileged to host you here in South Africa today.  Iran is renowned for its hospitality and I trust that you and your delegation will find yourselves at home at this beautiful time of the year in Pretoria.

South Africa and Iran share warm and cordial relations that are based on the principles of solidarity, working towards creating a better life for our people, our regions and the world. 

The fact that we are meeting in this forum for the 13th time bears testimony to the consistency of our mutual commitment to build our relations on the solid ground of structured and systematic engagement, irrespective of challenging circumstances. I would like to reassure the Government and the people of the Islamic Republic of Iran that the Republic of South Africa regards our relationship with you as a priority.

I am, therefore, pleased to note that significant progress has been in our relations since we last met in this forum in Tehran in May 2015. A mere five months later, the Official Visit by our Deputy President, Mr Cyril Ramaphosa, further elevated the profile of our relations, culminating in the State Visit by President Zuma to your country in April last year. This visit committed our two countries to convert the strong fraternal and cordial relations into tangible projects, particularly in the trade, investment and economic arenas.

I am grateful to our two Deputy Ministers, who co-chaired the Deputy Ministerial Working Group Meeting in Iran in July this year. That meeting also paved the way for our discussions today.

Our particular mandate today ranges from tracking progress in normalising our trade, investment and financial relations in the post-sanctions era, to furthering our co-operation on science and technology, skills development and infrastructure development. This meeting will also provide us with the opportunity to broaden existing areas of cooperation as well as identify new sectors.

Minister Zarif,

I look forward to listening to the progress reports from our working groups. I understand that there are six agreements that are either ready for signature or at an advanced stage of completion. It is hoped that they can be signed during President Rouhani’s envisaged State Visit to South Africa in the near future. Our meeting today will give us the opportunity to strengthen what is already a very dynamic partnership.  I also look forward to sharing perspectives on the common challenges we face and how we could work together to contribute to a more peaceful and secure environment for our nations.

In this regard, I would like to applaud Iran for remaining committed to the directives of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) Agreement. Since the deal was signed in January 2015, the IAEA has consistently stated that Iran is in full compliance with it. Minister, I want to assure you and the People of Iran that South Africa supports the JCPOA.  It has again proven that diplomacy, the inclusion of all the stakeholders, compromise and commitment to a better world are the only sustainable means by which national and global interests can be served and differences resolved.

Minister Zarif, I reiterate my appreciation to you and your delegation for honouring us with your presence and I look forward to our deliberations today.

Khozh Amadid!

ISSUED BY THE DEPARTMENT OF INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS AND COOPERATION

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